ESJF 2019/20 surveys in five European countries

European society is polyethnic and multicultural. This means that the history of Jewish towns, communities, as well as Holocaust are not only relevant for Jewish history, but also an integral part of the history of Europe, including ESJF’s project countries. We believe that understanding the impact of Jewish communities on the life of towns and regions will help young people form nuanced attitudes to cultural heritage, which, in the long run, helps promote intercultural and interfaith dialogue in a multicultural and diverse Europe.

In ESJF’s educational outreach, secondary school students are encouraged to preserve and maintain the historical memory of local Jewish communities, including cemetery sites. Focusing on local spaces makes clear not only the close connection between Jewish life and the communities in which students live today, but also serves to de-mystify cemetery sites. Particularly in areas in which, following the Holocaust, Jewish communities no longer exist, the cemetery may be the last physical witness of Jewish presence. It is therefore of utmost importance that young people learn about this material heritage and can place it into its larger historical and socio-cultural context.

ESJF works with local multipliers and educators to reach young people. It is our aim to reach out to Jewish and non-Jewish organisations already active in various regions of Europe to build on existing expertise and networks, thereby also sharing and optimizing pedagogical approaches. Working with national and regional Jewish communities whenever possible, our goal is to educate the next generation to protect and preserve local Jewish heritage.

Currently, we are carrying out educational projects in selected secondary schools in:


Educational activities are strictly regulated by the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, and the ESJF developed its educational work in accordance with their requirements. 

We partnered with the NGO Centropa, whose work focuses on teaching 20th century Jewish history. In cooperation with the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS), the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki (JCT), the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) and under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Centropa and ESJF are organising a teacher training seminar in Thessaloniki in December 2019. The event invites 37 educators to discuss and exchange their experiences about teaching 20th century Jewish history.
Secondary school activities will follow. For more details, please check back later.

Teacher training:
Location: Thessaloniki
Educators reached: 37
School activities:
Locations: tbc
Students reached: tbc
Time period: from December 2019

Status: ongoing


Lithuanian Jewish heritage is extensively mapped, and the educational landscape is well-established. The ESJF offers two key contributions here: the specific focus on cemeteries, and a focus on reaching students in schools further away from the urban centres. 
Teacher training will take place in targeted schools in Lithuania. A professional educator from the Jewish Community in Lithuania (LŽB) will advise and prepare teachers to bring Jewish history to their classes, directly involving local cemetery sites. Students will visit the Jewish Museum in Vilnius and, later on, their local cemetery. They prepare presentations about what they learnt, which will be evaluated by the educator.

Teacher training:
Locations (intended): Trakai, Želva, Moletai, Bagaslaviskis, Žiežmariai
Educators reached: 10
School activities:
Locations (intended): Trakai, Želva, Moletai, Bagaslaviskis, Žiežmariai
Students reached (intended): 250
Time period: from December 2019

Status: ongoing


Moldova does not have a centralised curriculum that includes Jewish history. Educational activities are needed to introduce the subject itself. This means that teacher training is an especially crucial element in the ESJF’s educational work in Moldova: sustainability hinges on bringing teachers on board to be willing to broaden the scope of their work without being required to do so.
Students’ activities build on teacher training. In Moldova, ESJF based its educational involvement on the close cooperation with the Jewish Community of Moldova. Dr. Irina Shikova, an expert on Jewish heritage in Moldova with many years of experience dealing with cemetery sites, leads pupils from selected schools across the country on excursions to Jewish cemeteries.

Locations: Briceva, Falesti (ongoing)
Students reached: 45 (ongoing)
Time period: from October 2019

Status: ongoing


In Slovakia, education on Jewish history focuses mostly on the Holocaust, though the actual curriculum content is flexible and determined by the individual preferences of teachers and principals. The ESJF decided to include elements on Jewish history going beyond the Shoah, focusing on the Jewish life cycle through material evidence provided by cemeteries. 
For outreach in Slovakia, the ESJF worked closely with educators Dr. Ján Hlavinka and Michala Lônčíková from the Holocaust Documentation Center in Bratislava, the partners of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Slovakia (UZZNO) in developing educational activities in Slovakia. In a teacher training seminar for seven teachers from eastern Slovakia, participants developed worksheets to encourage their students to discover the Jewish material heritage of the local town. The educators from HDC then accompanied teachers and their classes on excursions to the Jewish cemetery sites. Students learnt to interpret gravestones, so as to be able to get closer to the lives of those buried there, and develop respect through enhanced understanding.

Teacher training: 
Location: Bardejov
Educators reached: 7

School activities:
Locations: Snina, Presov, Bardejov, Hummené, Medzilaborce
Students reached: 190
Time period: September- October 2019

Status: concluded


As in Moldova, there is no centralised curriculum in Ukraine, and education about Jewish history and the Holocaust is often absent in secondary schools. The infrastructure is generally decentralised and not well-developed. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for educational work in Ukraine: the ESJF’s educational project has to be built from scratch here, but opportunities themselves are often very productive, when committed teachers are reached.
The ESJF developed its approach in Ukraine in close cooperation with experienced educator and Jewish cemetery expert Alexandra Fishel, who visited schools in Kyiv oblast to lecture students on the Jewish history of the region, and guided excursions to cemetery sites. Students learnt to decipher Hebrew dates, recognise commonly used formulas found on gravestones, and the significance of most commonly used symbols on matzevot.

Teacher training:
Location: Kyiv (tbc)
Educators reached: tbc

School activities:
Locations: Bohuslav, Vyshnivets, Stary Vyshnivets, Butyn, Bodakiv
Students reached: 180
Time period: November 2019

Status: ongoing

The ESJF in higher education – A pilot in Ukraine

As part of the educational pilot project, the ESJF also developed outreach for higher education. Jewish studies departments often cater for students in the humanities and the social sciences, but technologies of contemporary heritage preservation are often missing in Jewish-themed higher education.
Surveys and photogrammetry are one of the core areas of expertise at the ESJF, and we thus worked together to develop a training package for engineering and architectural students where they learn about the cutting edge UAV technology and 3D modelling we use. At the same time, they also getting acquainted with Jewish history and heritage. Students of history and Jewish studies will also be involved in university outreach, and will be encouraged to broaden their understanding about digital technologies. Our pilot university outreach will take place in two Ukrainian higher education institutions in Kyiv.

Training seminar for engineering students:
Location: Kyiv National University of Civil Engineering and Architecture (KNUBA)
Time period: December 3 – 4

Guest lecture for students of Jewish Studies:
Location: Kyiv Mohyla Academy
Time period: January (tbc)

Status: ongoing

Please see regular updates on our educational projects below.

ESJF and Centropa conduct successful seminar for secondary school teachers in Thessaloniki, Greece

ESJF has teamed up with Centropa, an NGO that focuses on Jewish education, to organise a seminar for 35 secondary school educators in Greece. Titled “Teaching 20th century multicultural Greek history through Jewish family stories, promoting interreligious tolerance in the Balkans,” the seminar invited participants to develop approaches to bring Jewish history to the classroom through focusing on Jewish heritage sites – including cemeteries.


Secondary school educational outreach in Ukraine completed in Vyshnivets

Secondary school students of around 16 years of age were invited from four schools in Vyshnivets and the surrounding towns of Stary Vyshnivets, Butyn, and Bodaki. Students visited both cemeteries of Vyshnivets in smaller groups, guided by ESJF educator Dr. Alexandra  Fishel.


First educational projects of our EU-funded pilot project take place in Ukraine

Educational activity under the pilot project that sponsors ESJF’s mass surveys in 2018-2020 has begun in Ukraine. On November 6th, educator and Jewish cemetery expert Dr. Alexandra Fishel led around 50 secondary school students to the Jewish cemetery in Bohuslav, Kyiv oblast.


Educational outreach in Slovakia coming to a close

ESJF’s educational projects in Slovakia are wrapping up. The projects, carried out with secondary school students in seven eastern Slovakian schools, have piloted ESJF’s educational activity in the country, serving as the basis for future heritage education. They reached almost 200 students from different schools across the country.


ESJF educational projects underway in Slovakia

ESJF has begun its educational outreach to schools in Slovakia. On October 7th, 2019, the head of the Holocaust Documentation Center in Bratislava, Dr. Jan Hlavinka, led students of two schools in the eastern Slovakian town of Humenné on an excursion to the local Jewish cemetery.